Saturday, September 08, 2007

Christianity without the extras

3 months ago we left a church of 260 to move to Puerto Rico, where I preach in English to 12 people (including me) and then in Spanish to 4-6. That's quite a change, especially when you include how many other churches there are in Middle TN, where we moved from. There are two other churches in Columbia, plus 5-7 in Murfreesboro, more than 3 in Franklin, plus many others within one hour of where we lived, many of them large.

There are some Sundays we only have 4 people in Spanish--my wife and I and 2 older saints. As the number of those Sundays continues it gets a little discouraging. Needless to say there are no children's classes because there are no children. We still don't have Bible class in Spanish at all. But we do have an adequate meeting place, a house that was converted many years ago but will seat 60-70 easily.

I was translating a report the other day from a brother who is now preaching in the park each Sunday--they were meeting in the home of one of their members who liked to drink alcohol. When he was taught what the Bible says about that he made a change--he left the faith. So now they are meeting in the park, under a tree, and yes, even when it rains.

This made me think about being a Christian without some of the "basics" that most Christians in the South take for granted. Ask yourself the following questions:

1) How long would I continue meeting with a church that didn't have its own meeting place?
2) If you have small children would I worship with a church that didn't have the best classes for my children? There is not another faithful church within driving distance.
3) What if my children had only 2-3 other children to play with?
4) What if the meeting place wasn't cooled/heated that well?
5) How long would I be faithful if the church of Christ was one of the smallest churches in town?

Unfortunately, I already know the answers from too many brethren because I have seen their actions.

1) Not having a meeting place makes coming together too inconvenient, so they stop doing it.
2) Some have gone to liberal churches, or even denominations, for "good" Bible classes for their kids.
3) This excuse has also been given for leaving the truth for error.
4) It's just too uncomfortable, so they stop attending.
5) If being a Christian is an impediment in business they join the "right" church, whatever it may be.

Brethren, being a Christian is not a bed of roses, no matter what culture you live in. But when I see Christians raised in the Bible belt who move away and then drift away from the truth, it tells me there was a problem when they lived in the Bible belt.

Why are you a Christian? Because that's what's expected of you? Can you tell someone else why we worship the way we do? If not, there's a problem. There is also a solution, but it takes time and effort. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Rom. 10:17)



Anonymous said...

That needed to be said, and you said it well.

John said...

I am continually inspired by your writing Brother Tol! I can't tell you how much I appreciate both the good work you are doing in PR and throughout the Caribbean and South America, and the sacifices both you and your dear wife have made to do the work of the Lord. May God continue to bless you both richly!

Deus Vitae said...



Thanks very much for this. If possible, I would like to publish it or a more polished version from you on Renewed in Spirit. Please contact me at editor at renewedinspirit dot org. Thanks.